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SEP 14: Annual Report 2009: Capital Beltway HOT Lanes Project

7 Lessons Learned

Following are "lessons learned" according to the different perspectives of individuals and entities participating in the project. They are presented here in un-redacted format. In future reports, we will focus on specific issues and provide a more in-depth analysis.

7.1 Agency Perspective

  • More explicitly define the role and scope of the Independent Engineer
  • Provide checklists for design that clearly identify expectations.
  • Add language to contract to cover QA/QC issues.
  • Identify markup percentages within the contract for change orders.
  • Complete a conceptual plan agreed to by all parties prior to pricing and contract negotiation.
  • Include VDOT in the conceptual plan development with Design Builder.
  • Consider organizing design and design review by teams rather than disciplines.
  • Improve definition of scope of work, including better definition of bridge limits as well as bridge width, aesthetics, size, and shape of various bridge elements.
  • Revise / review bridge manuals / guidelines to avoid ambiguous requirements and provide additional guidelines / details.
  • Provide minimum standards / details for soundwalls, MSE walls, aesthetics, bridge drainage systems, bridge inspectability etc.
  • Provide an independent construction QA / QC team that is compensated by the project and not by the Design-Builder.
  • Obviously, bridge / wall foundations on the I-495 project have been an issue and will likely continue to be an issue on future D/B projects. It may be a good idea to hold a facilitated meeting with design-builders to evaluate how foundation design process can be less contentious.
  • Better definition / understanding of 100 percent plans submittal. Perhaps what VDOT is looking for is plans with enough details to begin construction (not all t's crossed) and with the goal of 100 percent as-built plans delivered at the end of project.
  • On complex projects (such as I-495), it is critical that contractor team and designer team have worked together before (no time for a learning curve)

7.2 Design/Builder's Perspective

  • Establish a more-concrete scope of work in the initial contract to avoid squabbles about "is it in or is it out?"
  • Ensure that the design review process and time is clearly delineated in the contract
  • Provide baseline schedule approval 120 days following notice to proceed (NTP)
  • Hold the Design Public Hearing prior to NTP
  • Obtain Interchange Justification Report approval as prerequisite to contract
  • Ensure that the contract change process (procedure) is established and clearly articulated in the contract
  • Provide mandatory free lunches (once a month)
  • Make ROW acquisition the responsibility of the State
  • Clearly delineate formal communication protocol

7.3 FHWA Virginia Division Perspective

  • The VDOT GEC is playing a valuable role for technical support, quick turnaround and serving as VDOT staff. It is important to have them onboard early.
  • Defining a better scope would have reduced a number of issues and discussions. In the future, consideration should be given to the timing of such actions as design exceptions, design public hearing, and interstate justification requests.
  • Defining levels of appeals and having an issue resolution process are important.
  • Important to understand the role of the various parties that are not normally on projects, such as concessionaire and independent engineer. The concessionaire might be a small organization relying on many contracts for support.
  • Partnering and collocation are helpful in developing effective working relationships.
  • Technical groups were developed for many disciplines and are important for resolving issues at the lowest level.
  • Defining and agreeing to a commenting process for design plans, as well as, the overall comment resolution process is important. Trust and communication need to be developed. Agreeing to how much design is enough is important.
  • Project development plans are important and about 10 were developed early in the process by the concessionaire.
  • All parties need to examine how best to evolve from a design project to a construction project.
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Jerry Yakowenko
Office of Program Administration
E-mail Jerry

Updated: 04/07/2011

United States Department of Transportation - Federal Highway Administration